The lives of people with disabilities in Finland are supported in many ways. Below you can find information on moving and housing, assistants and assistive devices, medicines, vehicles, employment and allowances. There is also information on bringing assistive devices, medicines and guide dogs into the country as well as on social welfare services and how to appeal decisions.
Moving and housing
Under Article 9 of the Nordic Social Security Convention, the relevant authorities must assist people with disabilities if they move. Local authorities have a duty to ensure that people with disabilities can move if
- the person is moving of their own free will,
- the person has particular connections to the country they intend to move to, and
- it is expected that the person’s life situation will improve in the new country.
If a disabled person personally feels that the move will improve their life situation, this is in itself a strong reason that the move should be made. Contact your municipality of residence to get assistance with your move. If necessary, mention Article 9 of the Nordic Social Security Convention. The contact details of Finnish municipalities can be found on the website of the Association of Finnish Municipalities.
You can find more information on living in Finland with disabilities in the Handbook on Disability Services of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare.
General information on housing can be found in the section Housing in Finland.
Housing and sheltered housing for people with disabilities
Some municipalities have so-called disabled apartments for people with disabilities. Getting an apartment very much depends on which municipality a person with a disability moves to and what sort of apartment the person is able to live in.
Note that with housing for people with disabilities, municipalities in Finland must provide certain social services regardless of their budgets, i.e. they have a specific obligation to provide these.
Under Section 8 of the Act on Disability Services, a municipality must provide sheltered housing, among other things, for a person with a severe disability, if due to their impairment or illness it is essential for the person to have services to carry out everyday activities. This does not apply to persons in institutional care, however.
For questions about moving, it is advisable to contact your new municipality of residence to get information on the housing situation for people with disabilities in that particular municipality. If necessary, you can also ask the authorities in your present municipality of residence to contact your new municipality.
Assistants, dogs and assistive devices
Many people with disabilities need an assistant to make their everyday lives run smoothly. This naturally also applies to travelling and moving.
If you move permanently to another Nordic country, you should apply to your new municipality of residence for support for a personal assistant. There may be a long processing time, however, so it is advisable to contact your new municipality of residence in good time.
If you are visiting another Nordic country for a short period only, your municipality of residence will only grant support for a personal assistant for your journey for special reasons. For shorter journeys or longer periods of studies of a maximum of six months, the municipality of residence in the country of departure will grant compensation for the use of a personal assistant in rare cases only. In these cases you need to ask your municipality of residence what compensation is available.
Finnish legislation does not contain specific guidelines on importing guide dogs to Finland; the same rules apply to guide dogs as for other dogs. The rules on importing dogs are described on the page Travelling to Finland with dogs or cats.
If you live or work in Finland, you get the assistive devices you need in the same way as permanent residents of Finland.
If you are staying in Finland temporarily, you can get medically necessary assistive devices for the period of your stay in the same way and for the same price as permanent residents of Finland on presentation of your European Health Insurance Card, passport or ID document.
If you are staying in Finland temporarily for a holiday, visiting relatives etc., assistive devices can be taken from one Nordic country to another.
Various different organisations are involved in the provision of assistive device services in Finland.
- Municipalities and joint municipal authorities have the main responsibility for providing assistive device services.
- Assistive device services for medical rehabilitation are provided by the healthcare services.
- Social services or disability services can grant financial support for reasonable expenses for home adaptations and for purchasing devices and equipment for the home.
- The education system provides assistive devices for schools and classrooms.
You can find information on assistive devices and assistive device services in the Rehabilitation House section of the Health Village website. On the site you can also find information on the responsibility of public services and insurance companies for providing services and on services if you are moving to or from another country.
Kela, the employment administration, the State Treasury and insurance and earnings-related pension providers also pay for assistive device services that they are responsible for. Kela only provides so-called demanding assistive devices. Demanding assistive devices include special technical equipment like video magnifiers, Braille and large-format displays and computers. Assistive device services are generally free of charge for customers in Finland.
The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare’s Handbook on Disability Services also contains information on assistive devices.
If, due to illness or disability, you cannot manage at work or in your studies without personal assistive devices, Kela can get you the devices you need and show you how to use and look after them.
Imports of cars used by persons with disabilities are covered by the same rules as for imports of other cars. Importing cars is covered in the section Vehicles in Finland.
Persons with disabilities may be exempted from basic vehicle tax without applying if an entry of refund of car tax under section 50 or 51 of the Car Tax Action has been made in the vehicle register. If you have a parking card for people with disabilities, you can apply to be exempted.
You need to re-apply for exemption whenever you change your car and when your parking card expires. Exemption from basic vehicle tax can be granted on the basis of the same person’s disability for one vehicle only at a time. Vehicle tax must be paid on the due date, even if your application is pending. If the application is approved, the tax paid is refunded. More information on the Traficom website.
Under section 51 of the Car Tax Act, the car tax included in the price of a car registered in Finland for the first time can be refunded, either wholly or partly, to a person with a disability. Refunds are granted on the basis of the nature and severity of the applicant’s disability and the support is capped at a maximum amount. The nature and severity of the disability are always determined by a doctor.
In some cases, car tax can be refunded on the basis of a disability in the form of tax relief. Finnish Customs can grant relief from car tax on the basis of section 50 of the Car Tax Act. In this case, the tax can be refunded for especially compelling reasons either in full or in part, as deemed reasonable. For example, car tax has been refunded in the form of tax relief to parents for whom a car is necessary to transport their severely disabled child.
Under the Act on Disability Services, support can be granted for the purchase of a used or new car. You can be compensated for half the actual costs of the car. Deductions are made for any refund of car tax, trade-in of an old car and any other support received for the car. You can apply for support for the purchase of a car even if you have not received a refund of car tax.
Under transport and accident insurance legislation, support for the purchase of a car can only be given to persons with severe disabilities who go out to work.
Under the Act on Disability Services, essential modifications to a standard-model car necessitated by a disability are paid for (controls, power steering, swivel seat, wheelchair lift). The modifications are paid for in full, but within the available budget, because this is not a so-called subjective right. Under the Act on Disability Services, half of the costs of equipment to facilitate the use of the car can also be paid for.
Motor and accident insurance companies also reimburse the costs of modifications to cars. Ask your insurance company for more details.
Ajovarma can issue a parking card for people with severe disabilities or for transporting persons with disabilities. Apply for the card at Ajovarma’s customer service point or on Traficom’s e-services.
Some insurance companies offer discounts on motor liability insurance for persons with disabilities. Check this with your insurance company.
How disability or illness can affect employment
If you need modifications or special arrangements at work owing to your disability or illness, you can get help from the TE Office or local government pilot expert. The expert will help if you need information on employment opportunities and how to keep your job despite having a disability or illness.
Employers can also get a subsidy for arranging working conditions from the TE Office so that you can stay in your existing job with your disability or illness or start in a new job.
Find out more on Job Market Finland.
Kela disability benefits and interpreter service
The Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela) grants disability allowances on the basis of the Act on Disability Benefits. These are designed to help persons living in Finland with a disability or chronic illness to cope in everyday life, participate in employment or studies and maintain their functional ability, living at home, rehabilitation and care. Kela also provides an interpreter service to support persons with hearing impairment, hearing and visual impairment or speech impairment.
Find out more on Kela’s website.
Students going on a higher education exchange or members of higher education staff who have a disability, illness, learning difficulty or other special needs can get extra financial support to participate in an international exchange. Special needs grant is intended for example for accessible accommodation, assisted mobility or study-related arrangements such as learning materials.
The Nordic countries are part of the Schengen agreement and are committed to lenient rules on personal imports of medicines. As a rule, you can bring in medicines from Nordic countries for your own personal use up to a maximum corresponding to one year of use.
How to appeal
If as a social welfare customer you are not satisfied with the service, assistance, care or treatment you receive, you can
- contact the head of the office that made the decision
- contact the Social Ombudsman
- dispute your treatment with the person responsible in the social welfare unit, or the senior social welfare official
- lodge a complaint with the monitoring authority, i.e. the Regional State Administrative Agency, the Parliamentary Ombudsman of Finland or the Chancellor of Justice. In some cases, the Regional State Administrative Agency may refer a complaint to the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health Valvira.
Applicants for social welfare services and social assistance are entitled to get a reasoned decision in writing. The decision explains what the appeal procedures are. You can make a claim for rectification of a decision by a social welfare official to the municipal body responsible for social welfare services within 14 days of being informed of the decision. If you are not satisfied with decisions made by benefit-granting institutions, such as Kela or an insurance company, you can lodge an appeal with the Social Security Appeal Board, which is the first appellate authority.
You are entitled to appeal a decision by a municipal body (for example the social welfare board) to the administrative court within 30 days.
You can lodge a complaint with the Parliamentary Ombudsman or the Chancellor of Justice if you suspect that an authority or official has not has not complied with the law or fulfilled their obligations. The Parliamentary Ombudsman and the Chancellor of Justice cannot, however, amend or overturn previous administrative decisions made by authorities. They can issue a reminder, reprimand or warning to an official or launch a preliminary criminal investigation.
Please fill in our contact form if you have any questions or if you have encountered an obstacle in another Nordic country.
NB! If you have questions regarding the processing of a specific case or application, or other personal matters, please contact the relevant authority directly.